Waltham Forest Council has been accused of not being “transparent” because 95 per cent of its councillors are exempt from declaring interests.

Elected officials are supposed to declare their interests when voting on new policies – but 59 of 62 listed councillors do not have to do this.

There are three councillors in each of the 20 wards in Waltham Forest, making 60 in total. One councillor sadly died last year, his brother stood in the by-election to take his place and one councillor appeared on both the Conservative and the Labour lists of general dispensations so has been counted twice, hence the total of 62.

While they are not allowed to vote on those policies, they are under no obligation to explain why.

This is because they signed up to a scheme under the Localism Act 2011, which means they can opt out of this rule.

However there is no way to police whether councillors are voting on things they are not supposed to be.

John O’Connell, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Residents have a right to know about their councillors’ interests as a central tenet of democracy.

“This is especially important considering the increasing amounts of taxpayers’ money councillors take every year.

“Sunlight is the best disinfectant and these councillors should give up these dispensations immediately.”

On February 20 2015, the then director of governance, Daniel Fenwick, received requests from both the Labour and Conservative parties for all councillors to be granted “a general dispensation from the requirement to disclose any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest.”

The exemption from declaring interests was granted to all councillors, except for Marion Fitzgerald (Conservative, Hatch Lane), Geoffrey Walker (Conservative, Hatch Lane) and Umar Ali (Labour, William Morris).

It is unclear why these three councillors’ were not featured in the exemptions.

When questioned as to why she wasn’t on the Conservatives’ list, Marion Fitzgerald had no idea what the special dispensation from declaring interests was.

According to the 2011 Localism Act, councillors are only exempt from declaring their interests if the council’s monitoring officer thinks this is best for constituents or if they think “it is otherwise appropriate.”

In total, 43 Labour councillors including Clare Coghill, council leader, Liaquat Ali, portfolio holder for transformation, and Clyde Loakes, portfolio holder for environment and deputy council leader, were all granted general dispensation from declaring interests.

Meanwhile, 16 Conservative councillors including Alan Siggers, leader of the Conservative group,  were also granted dispensation from declaring their interests.

The exemption stretched from February 2015 through until the annual council meeting this year.

The Department for Communities and Local Government was contacted for comment.

A spokesman for the Department said: "While we will not be providing a comment on this matter, we have published guidance for councillors to adhere to."

Those guidelines can be found here.

The issue of potential conflicts of interest among councillors is gaining national attention in the run up to local elections this week.

A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council said: "Dispensation was given to councillors of all parties in 2015 to enable them to vote and make future decisions on Council Tax.

"Without the dispensation councillors would not have been able to participate on issues around council tax as they would have had a disclosable financial interest based on the fact that they live in the borough and as such pay council tax.

"This practice is common in local authorities and ensures that councils comply with rules set by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government."